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Tag Archives: music licensing

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The Secret to Licensing Your Music

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Categories: Uncategorized, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By: Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This article was previously published on Synchtank.com.

Licensing music is one of the more lucrative areas of the music business and I often get asked how one can encourage productions to license one’s music. 

There are many factors that go into choosing a piece of music to license.  For example, some creative factors include the song itself, the genre, the artist who recorded the particular song, the time period from which the music is from, the nature of the scene or commercial that is using the music, the product, the mood that the producers want to evoke, and other factors.  From a legal perspective, factors that can influence whether a piece of music is licensed include the territory in which the music is available to be licensed, the length of time the music will be used, in which media the music will be used, whether promotional uses are allowed and what type, and more.

However, there is one factor that when all other things remain equal could win the license for one piece of music over another.

Without further ado, the secret to getting music licensed is…

Make the music easy to license!

Note that just because one’s music is easy to license does not guarantee someone will license it.  However, what it does mean is that if a production is interested in licensing a particular piece of music that proves difficult and time-consuming to license, the production will very often abandon efforts to try to license the difficult piece of music and re-direct its efforts to another piece of music that is easier to license.  This means that the owner of the piece of music that is difficult to license will lose that license and the income generated from it, and another rights’ owner now has an opportunity to get that license, and the income from it.

Here are some examples I’ve encountered where the music was not easy to license:

In one example, a new artist wanted a synchronization license for his cover version of a particular song.  There were two writers of the composition, and two publishers from whom to seek a license.  One publisher (“Publisher 1”), a major publisher, was responsive and regularly communicated in regard to approval status.  The other publisher (“Publisher 2”), a lesser-known indie publisher who actually has a catalogue of some substantial songs, was completely non-responsive.  This publisher ignored multiple emails and voicemails with the license request, including ignoring communication from Publisher 1, its co-publisher. 

I am a big fan of publishers in general, and especially those that do their job well.  However, in this case, Publisher 2 was actually losing a license for its writer by completely ignoring the license requests.  It stands to reason that if Publisher 2 ignored the request in this example, it is very likely that Publisher 2 has ignored other requests as well.  This means that Publisher 2 is actively losing money for its writer, and also creating a reputation whereby potential licensees will purposely avoid using songs administered by Publisher 2 because of Publisher 2’s difficulty.  This, in turn, will lose even more future licenses and money for both Publisher 2 and its writer. 

In another example, a successful podcast wanted to license a particular song for its intro and outro music.  The publisher responded quickly with a reasonable quote.  The master owner was in Europe and I contacted the office in the appropriate country.  That office advised me to contact and obtain the license through a particular society.  This procedure didn’t sound correct to me, but I contacted the society per the label’s request.  After several attempts at obtaining a response from this particular society, the society informed me that the society only licenses for its particular country, and only for a podcaster’s own website, not for the major podcast distribution channels like iTunes.  As this confirmed my appraisal of the situation, I contacted the label again with this information.  As of the date of this writing, the label has not responded.

A third example involves clearing music for a video game on a past project.  One particular composition was identified as being owned by a particular company.  After contacting the company several times and the company initially confirming it could issue the license, the company then said it could not issue a worldwide license, as it turns out it was only the sub-publisher for a particular territory.  Our team then asked this company to direct us to the company that could issue the worldwide license.  The sub-publisher’s response was “we don’t know.”  A sub-publisher is responsible for accounting to the rights’ owner that is the main publisher, who in this case would be the company able to issue the worldwide license.  The sub-publisher seemingly did not know who they were representing or to which company they were accounting!  Thankfully, there was a happy ending as we independently found the worldwide licensor and licensed the song.

In order to avoid making the same mistakes as the rights’ owners described above, here are a few tips to make music easy (or easier) to license:

  1. Make sure the registration data is correct in all places where someone would seek information for the licensing contact.
  2. Have a one-stop license, if possible.   A one-stop availability means a person or company owns or has the right to license both the composition and master.  This is not always possible, especially with major releases, so in that case, see #3.
  3. Know who the proper licensing parties are (including co-owners) and be able to assist in the process, if needed.
  4. Respond to license requests!

While the four steps outlined above cannot ensure a particular piece of music will be chosen from a creative standpoint, they will assist in the licensing process when the creative interest is already present.  Licensing is a very active area and it is possible to stay in and win at the licensing game if you play it correctly.

Note: This article does not constitute legal advice.

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Erin M. Jacobson Speaking at Taxi Road Rally

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Categories: Music Contracts, Music Industry, Music Libraries, Speaking, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I will be speaking at the 2017 Taxi Road Rally, November 3-4, 2017! Here is my schedule: Friday, November 3, 2017 from 2:45-4:15 pm / La Guardia Room (Mezzanine Level / 2nd Floor)
Don’t Get Screwed! How to Protect Yourself as an Independent Musician with Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.  An explanation of the most common types of ways independent musicians and songwriters get screwed and how to protect yourself before it happens. This class will include real examples from artist’s careers, as well as a discussion on what contracts are necessary to prevent these scenarios, along with an opportunity for Q&A with music attorney Erin Jacobson. (I will also participate in the mentor lunch on Friday.)
Saturday, November 4, 2017 from 4:30-6:00 pm /  La Guardia Room (Mezzanine Level / 2nd Floor) Understanding Music Library Agreements with Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.  Music attorney, Erin M. Jacobson will talk about the types of deals offered and explain what contract terminology and certain clauses mean. You may bring printouts of particular clauses that have you stumped and Ms. Jacobson will read them and explain what they mean! This class could save you a world of hurt down the road. It’s a Do-Not-Miss session if you’re pitching to music libraries! Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Erin to Speak at TAXI Road Rally Convention, November 4-5, 2016

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Categories: Music Contracts, Music Industry, Speaking, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Erin will speak at the TAXI Road Rally on November 4-5, 2016.

Here is Erin’s presentation schedule:

Friday, November 4, 2016, 2:45pm-4:15pm

Don’t Get Screwed! How to Protect Yourself as an Independent Musician
with Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

Saturday, November 5, 2016, 4:30pm-6:00pm

Understanding Music Library Agreements
with Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

(in this session, you can bring actual library agreements and ask questions about the language in those agreements)

Both sessions with have ample opportunity for Q&A.

The TAXI Road Rally is for TAXI Members and will be held at the Westin LAX.  For more information on the Road Rally, including schedule and entrance information, visit TAXI.com.

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Client News: Adam Small Launches New Venture in Music Consulting, Management, Licensing, and More

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Categories: Clients, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My client Adam Small of My Music Masterclass has now launched Adam Small Music, a company focusing on music career consulting, management, licensing, publishing, and more.

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Adam is a professional touring bassist, has a large career in music licensing, and is also a mastering engineer, studio consultant, video editor, web designer, computer tech, etc.  He is now using his more than twenty years experience in the music industry to help other artists with their careers.

I encourage you to learn more about Adam Small Music at www.adamsmallmusic.com.

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How to Protect Your Music and Avoid Legal Pitfalls

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Categories: Business, Copyright, Infringement, Law, Legal Issues, Music Industry, Music Publishing, Record Labels, Royalties, Trademark, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I recently had the privilege of being interviewed for My Music Masterclass about how musicians can protect their music, avoid some common legal pitfalls, and more.  The video is available for a temporary stream or permanent download HERE.

My Music Masterclass is a fantastic website where users can view exclusive masterclass sessions with the top touring musicians and industry professionals.  (Registration required and there is a small fee for the streams and downloads.)

You can view a preview of the full video below.  This video is packed with a lot of information and I hope it helps artists to further understand and take control of their careers.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me so I can help you to protect your music and grow your career.

Stream or download the full video here!

This preview video is also available on YouTube – please like, comment, and share it!  (Subscribe to my YouTube channel here.)

The information contained in this video and any linked resource is intended to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice by Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. or My Music Masterclass. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. This video is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between you and Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. and you should not act or rely on any information in this video without seeking the advice of an attorney.   YOUR USE OF THIS INFORMATION IS AT YOUR OWN RISK. YOU ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY AND RISK OF LOSS RESULTING FROM THE USE OF THIS INFORMATION. ERIN M. JACOBSON, ESQ. AND/OR MY MUSIC MASTERCLASS WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER RELATING TO THE USE OF THIS INFORMATION.